What Pearl Harbor meant, and what it still means today

On a calm Sunday afternoon 72 years ago, Americans tuning into their favorite radio programs learned that their placid lives had been shattered. The Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.

On that date – Dec. 7, 1941 – which then-President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said would “live in infamy,” modern-day Americans experienced the shock of a foreign attack on U.S. territory.

Although the attack occurred around 7 in the morning, Hawaiian time, it was 2:30 p.m. Eastern time before regular radio programming was interrupted to inform the U.S. mainland of the air assault by the Japanese.

When Islamic terrorists attacked the United States nearly 60 years later the world learned of the tragedy within minutes, but Americans and the world waited hours and sometimes days to hear what was going on at Pearl Harbor.

How frightening it must have been to listen to the radio broadcasters tell the story without being able to see what was going on as we did in 2001. The generation which experienced the attack which launched the U.S. into World War II had already been made tough by the Great Depression. This attack steeled their resolve even more and gave them the strength to endure a long world war at home, while Allied Troops fought relentlessly to vanquish the enemy both in the Pacific and in Europe.

Although our world has changed significantly since then, we should forever be indebted to the men and women of the “Greatest Generation.” We must never forget Pearl Harbor and we should always stand ready to defend our homeland.